After our adventure in Edinburgh, Scotland we packed up the van once again and headed to the motorway, southbound. Our destination for the evening was Abergavenny, about an hour north of Cardiff to stay in this beautiful B&B tucked in the hills around the quaint town. We welcomed an uneventful drive with a stop at a roadside food truck for some breakfast sandwiches, where we were encouraged to try haggis (pretty good, kind of like meatloaf) and Irn Bru (Iron Brew), a sort of orange/cream soda flavor unlike anything else I’ve drank before. Hours later we rolled into Abergavenny for dinnertime. We got a cheap meal at the local tavern and ventured through the narrow and windy backroads towards The Celyn B&B. Another clear night, glowing with stars exposed the farms that lined the hills complete with sheep and wild horses. Upon arriving, our host greeted us with fresh Welsh cakes and hot cocoa and tea. The spacious rooms’ windows looked out to the valley which opened around us, and we could see the for miles into the gorgeous hills. We spent the evening watching a movie and playing games in preparation for the busy nights ahead.
The next morning, we were served a full homemade traditional breakfast consisting of tea/coffee fried eggs, baked beans, toast, sausage, blood pudding (which isn’t that bad!), hash browns, grilled tomato and sautéed mushrooms. Delicious! Our only plan that day was to pick up Jackie’s parents from Cardiff airport and get them some food. After retrieving them from the airport we arrived at the Victorian house we’d rented for all of us via Airbnb, located just outside the Cardiff city centre, on Cathedral Road. We took the afternoon to relax, nap and recoup before the Wales vs. England rugby game the next day.
The big game was the kick-off of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament for the Millennium Stadium. The participating teams (Ireland, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Wales) play each other in a series of 5 rounds. We had tickets to the Wales vs. England game, which are apparently incredibly hard to obtain. Thankfully, we had some great hosts with some useful connections! Prior to the match we sat down for an amazing dinner with friends, family and our hosts to celebrate the game. The pre-game show began with a light show and music mashup to raise the suspense before the home team, Wales, enters the pitch. Fire spits high into the air and finally the Welsh team appears. Fans with rose hats sing “Swing low, Sweet chariot” in support of their Englishmen. Welsh supports done daffodil and dragon hats and scarves and sing “Bread of Heaven” to combat the english supporters. The game ended in an English winning result, but both sides were surprisingly at ease with one another, joking and laughing after the game.
The following day we explored Cardiff Castle and then took the train into Swansea to see a football match between Swansea City and Sundlerland. The teams play in the Premier Football League, and it was a great game to watch, eventually resulting in a tie. We walked back towards the train station and popped into an awesome local pub for a few pints and to listen to the band start up. Eventually we made our way back into Cardiff to jump into our beds, exhausted.
On our last day in Cardiff, we visited The Welsh Museum of Life, also known as St. Fagan’s. It was a beautiful day and the warm sun greeted us after we poked our way in and out of the historical homes and general stores. That afternoon we went back to Swansea via van to watch the Wales vs. England Women’s match. England was the World Cup winners in August and was pegged to beat Wales. In a major upset, Wales dominated on defense and beat them! Many of my teammates from Bristol were selected for both the Wales and England national teams, and it was great to watch them play and say some final goodbyes to teammates in the crowd as well. From the game, all six of us piled into the van and drove across Wales and England towards London, where we are staying for 2 nights before heading to Rome!